KABUL  - Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday announced the dismissal of his intelligence chief ahead of an imminent cabinet reshuffle involving the top security ministries. The head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Rahmatullah Nabil, was dismissed as Karzai had decided that no intelligence chief could serve longer than two years, the president's office said.

"President Karzai commended the dedication Nabil demonstrated in the job over the past two years and wished him success in the new job he would soon take over as an ambassador to a foreign country," the palace said.

The move follows the ouster of two other top security officials, defence minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and interior minister Besmillah Mohammadi, by the country's parliament earlier this month. Lawmakers said they had failed to stop a resurgence in a 10-year Taliban insurgency.

A palace official said on condition of anonymity that Mohammadi would be appointed as the new defence minister while his former deputy Mushtaba Patanag would take over as interior minister. Assadullah Khaled, current minister of border and tribal affairs, would become the new NDS chief, he said. After Wardak was dismissed as defence minister, Karzai named him as senior presidential adviser on army reform. Separately, five Afghan army soldiers were killed in an insurgent roadside bombing and suicide attack in an eastern Afghanistan militant hotbed, officials said Wednesday. The soldiers were attacked late Tuesday in Kunar province by a suicide bomber on foot after a smaller explosion caused by a roadside bombing, a tactic that Afghan insurgents use often, the officials said.

"First there was an improvised roadside bombing that hit an army convoy," Mohammad Amin Tokhi, the Kunar provincial deputy governor, said.

"Some of the soldiers got out of their vehicles to check it out. A suicide bomber ran at them and detonated. Five of our soldiers were martyred and another was wounded." The incident took place in Manogai district, a hotspot of the Taliban insurgency. Dozens of the militants were killed in a NATO airstrike in the region earlier this month, the deputy governor said.

Mohammad Daud Barakzai, the Kunar deputy police chief, confirmed the Afghan army casualties and blamed the Taliban for the attack.

Afghanistan is plagued by an insurgency waged by the remnants of the Taliban that ruled the war-shattered nation between 1996 and 2001